The solitary tree found in New Zealand’s Lake Wanaka—an iconic landscape photography subject—is at risk of destruction if tourists, particularly Instagrammers, don’t start showing it more respect. The Lake Wanaka Tree is a crack willow—its very name refers to the tree’s brittle nature—and its social media popularity has fueled an influx of tourists who are destroying the tree as they attempt to capture Instagram-worthy shots.
There’s even an Instagram hashtag dedicated to the tree: #ThatWanakaTree.
Climbing this tree will soon be banned! Take care and protect it for future photographers. No harm was done to this tree to make this shot. ##ThatWanakaTree #samyanglensglobal #milkyway #stars #epic #selfie #wanaka #lakewanaka #nzmustdo #protectthetree
A post shared by Mikey Mack (@mack_photography_nz) on Jan 18, 2018 at 3:46am PST
The tree lost a limb around Christmas time last year, spurring officials to take proactive measures in protecting the tree. According to Lonely Planet, which spoke with Queenstown Lakes District Council arboricultural officer Tim Errington, officials will now place warning signs near the tree alerting visitors about the dangers of climbing on it.
The warning signs will be written in both English and Chinese, though more drastic measures may be taken if tourists ignore them. Errington explained that officials haven’t put a fence around the tree thus far because it would “take away some of the beauty associated with its stunning background,” but the idea is being considered.